2018

2018 has been one of the most incredible and transformational years of my entire life. 

I started this year very slowly; by doing a tonne of inner work and really hibernating down in my own little world while I did so. During January especially I felt like I learned a lot. I did an incredibly deep inner work course that really set the tone for the entire year; over the subsequent months I really felt the themes of my shadow work resurface again and again in order to test me, especially during these most recent months. I also learned a lot during this time as well: I finally did my birth chart (apparently I’m in my solar return), looked into human design, learned about my dosha and got into a tonne of podcasts that I really jived with. I finally downloaded Netflix and set up my own little Pinterest account. Both of these seem like the smallest things however since I was actually pretty ill at this point and had real minimal energy levels they made all the difference to my life. I started running, I created so many lovely morning routines. I got really into music and in some ways it really saved me. I Kon Marie-d my entire house. (The process outlined in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying) and I just let go of a million things that I was ready to let go of (both physically and mentally). I feel for me, the act of letting go of such a high amount of belongings really propelled me into the next phase of my life. As soon as I did that, everything changed. Situations became clearer, different people showed up in my life, and things started to feel less stagnant. I found out I had a couple of nutrient deficiencies. Something which really helped me to understand why I had been feeling so low for the last couple of years. I’m pleased to say I have almost completely reversed them. They way I feel now is honestly incomparable and something I do not take for granted. I said goodbye to my beloved poetry night, the night I had run for 2 years and trusted that despite it feeling scary, it was the right thing to do. Rhymes & Records really made me who I am in some ways and is honestly one of my proudest achievements. I was fortunate enough that I was able to attend a LOT of weddings, hen nights and baby showers. Watching my friends carve out the lives that are perfect for them has been lovely to see. 

This takes me to summer. We are so blessed to have had one of the best summers that England has seen in a long time. I have hundreds of pictures on my phone from spending my mornings in the garden and I truly believe that spending time outside in this weather is what healed me. I had some of the most loveliest times, just soaking in the sunlight: reading, doing yoga or eating.  I’m lucky in that I wasn’t overworked this year at all. I didn’t end up making a tonne of money but I made enough and was really able to take some much needed time for me. I did a juice cleanse that really raised me up a notch and made a massive difference to my health – in fact it was the first time I experienced having some level of energy and I feel it was a real turning point for me spiritually. I drank a lot of cacao in this time and really upped my self care. (I think it’s important to always have some strong go-to’s in this area – tools you can use that you know will always work.) I found out some things relating to my adoption (including that I previously had a different name!) and I learned that I share a lot of similar traits to women with high-functioning autism (not sure what that means at this stage but it is something I would love to further investigate) My best friend came back for a few weeks after moving away and I also had a 28th birthday.

Portugal. Firstly I won a free holiday (thank you manifestation course from earlier in the year) who even does that?! Portugal was one of the most incredible, profound adventures I’ve had to date. I’ve written about this previously but that one short week was responsible for some real shifts inside me. As soon as I came back, autumn had seemed to set in, which was the start of a whole new season and phase of life for me. 

Moving. I’m so lucky that I managed to move out into an absolute dream house, in a dream location, that is close to my work and filled with some really beautiful people. I’m close to the the park, I’m close to all my favourite things in the city and I feel like in moving I shed a lot of old stuff and really stepped into a new, lighter way of being. My home environment is really important to me and I am honestly so happy to be able to call this place my home. Every time I step into my room I have a smile on my face, no matter what sort of day I’ve had. My room in particular is a real solace and I work really hard to maintain it’s specific state of energy. At this point as well, my energy has almost made a complete return and I was feeling like life is full of possibility. I treated myself to some new clothes and really started to feel comfortable in my own skin and enjoy fashion again. I stopped being vegan for a short space of time, something I’m working my way back to. I also completed a year sober and taught myself that it’s okay to have a drink every now and then. I took on some really big poetry jobs around this time, I’d even go as far to describe them as “high-profile” (well they are the words that the organisers who booked me used at least) I also ran a tonne of events that I really was happy with: another Find Your Voice Course, a Rhymes & Records Revival and a Conscious Poetry Night being just a few. I’m really happy with the work I put out there this year, and the lovely people it connected me to. The next few months were full of synchronicities and powerful full moons. I wouldn’t be able to explain all of the strange, kismet things that happened during this time but I did start making a note of them somewhere private because there was too many not to! Watching Neil Hilborn, Rudy Francisco and Sabrina Benaim was a real privilege and really helped me evolve the way I write poetry. After feeling like I had outgrown some of my stuff, I was able to create new work that I felt accurately demonstrated everything I had learned up until this point. 

These last few months have been some of the most challenging I’ve had to date. I don’t think it’s fair for me to go into them in too much detail just yet and to be honest, I’m still processing. Everything that I learned about myself at the start of the year looped back around in the form of a mirror and really caused me to take stock of how far I’ve come and far there still is to go. I’ve learned that I am much, much stronger than I thought and in many way’s I’m so proud of how I’ve carried myself during such a difficult time. The way I’ve dealt with things this challenging has actually been really healthy. I’m proud of myself for that. The purpose of this is not to get people to feel sorry for me or concerned because I’m absolutely fine. Or maybe I’m not, and that’s fine too. I think theres a really strong sort of beauty that comes from owning your truth. I know that everything happened exactly as it was meant to and it really helped me grow into the person I was supposed to. I used to think people were full of shit when they’d say things like that – when something bad happened to them and they’d they can see why & that it was all divine etc. I used to think they were completely bullshitting and too afraid to say that it sucks. However I understand now that its happening to me. Everything that happened was beautiful and divine and also kind of sucks a little bit and it’s fine for things to be both. I’m in awe and gratitude to the year that I’ve had. I’m glad that I’ve been able to have fires in my garden and burn away everything I no longer need and know that I most probably will be turning to that ritual a lot more in the upcoming weeks. I’m grateful to salt baths and to sage, to orange essential oil and the absolute angels of friends I’ve had around me. This year, I’ve learned that anything can be beautiful if you allow it to be.

What else? I’ve grown as a person, I feel like I’m acting out of alignment a lot more and my body confidence is higher than it has ever been. This year I’ve felt more like a woman than any other year. I’m so thankful that I feel more at home within my body and the feeling still catches me off-guard and feels like a novelty for me. I still have further to go in the world of self-love but I don’t feel like I have to force it as much anymore. One of the other things that got me through this year were my girls at work. I’m so lucky with work in general that it’s got to a point where it all feels like a very well-oiled machine. We just work together well and everyone knows what they’re doing. I feel real confidence there and I’m so fortunate that I’ve had some of the nicest, most caring, supportive, funny and intelligent people to work with over these past few months. Working in the grotto on top of my normal job over the xmas time also really helped; the santa’s & the elves! During a time where I was struggling, the small conversations I had with others really helped me, even if they were about absolutely nothing! I’m so fortunate to have all of the friends around me that I do. Everyone talks about cutting off the negative people in the new year but I honestly don’t think I would know who. I have some people who really do genuinely care. And I hope I can be there for them they were they were there for me this year. I didn’t get as involved with Alternative Fashion Fest as I would have liked to this year, that’s the only thing I can really fault out of my year really. But I know it will always be there for me. I had canal boat holidays with my family and worked the door on some burlesque shows. But ultimately this year has been one of intense expansion and growth. I’m so fortunate and so thankful. 

Last year my word was “Stability” which I honestly do feel like I’ve been able to create more of for myself. I have a lot more things that I want to do this year and I can already start to see how the year is taking shape. This year I feel like I don’t have to force it as much. I feel like I want to keep my goals and intentions in real alignment with myself and that is why my word is “Truth”. Last year I entered the new year feeling fresh and full of hope. This year I kind of feel like I have been dragging myself across the finish line, covered in cuts and bruises and aching bones. However I’ve done it, I’m still here, I’m still breathing, even if my breath is ragged and my hair a mess, even if I barely know what day it is and have shaking hands. I’m here and I’m alive and that is honestly all that matters.

May 2019 bring you everything it’s supposed to.  

*original photo credit not found. Please let me know if you know the artist so I can credit them.

Why I Switched From Poetry to Blogging

Recently I was talking to a friend who commented that she had noticed me posting more blog posts. Straight away, I delved right into discussion with her, explaining all the reasons why I am loving blogging at the moment. I realised this would make for a great post and I thought I would explain to all of you why I have “switched” from poetry to blogging….Firstly let me say that I haven’t really switched at all! Just focused my energy on a form of writing that I believe is more sustainable for me at this time. No matter what sort of mood I am in, I’ve noticed that I am almost always able to write a blog post. Blogs are straightforward; they usually exist to communicate some form of information with an audience. Yes it takes work to create a post that is inspiring, imaginative and witty; but with blogging I feel like there’s less of a struggle. It helps me when I feel the need to write and share my thoughts with others and requires a lot less emotional labour than a poem does.

Poetry takes guts. It takes you reaching out into the cavernous depths of your chest and pulling out with your bare hands whats inside. It asks you to face your demons, to confront those parts of yourself that are considered most ugly. Poetry asks you to dig out your dirty laundry and hold it up for the whole world to see, hoping that your vulnerability will be something people can connect with.

Poetry, having being dismissed by scholars/society for centuries for being too “fluffy” is certainly not for the faint-hearted. But I am not someone who can access their most painful or joyous truth on cue. For me it can take even years for some poems to come through fully. It is like birthing something and this process cannot be rushed. Yes we can do writing exercises and yes, I would push people to write on a regular basis; I do after all, believe that many of us can hurry through the feeling of writers block and produce something fantastic in it’s wake. However, some poems simply do take years to create. When I first awakened creatively, I felt like poetry was just dripping onto the page. Ideas flowed through without any effort at all and I genuinely had the naivety (much like anyone at the start of a new, fabulous relationship) to believe that me and poetry would work like this together forever. What I was not prepared for, was for the poetry to dry up. What happens when I’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit? What happens when I’m not sure what else there is to write for? Do we keep pushing on, keep digging, even in the face of emotionally unearthing some wounds that are just too fresh to face daylight? And if we don’t want to, what might we turn our attention to instead?

With blogging comes the bonus of instant, measurable gratification. As much as I am a creative, I really do like my numbers and organisation. Thanks to the diagnostics tools available on WordPress – after each post I am presented with a nice neat table, detailing how many views, comments and clicks I get on each post. Theres also the function to compare my views to the previous post, week or even year. I absolutely love taking about the statistics and viewing my blog from all the different angles it can be viewed from. I have a little readership but for me that little element of progress is really satisfying to see. Poetry is unmeasurable; that’s what makes it exciting and beautiful. It’s hard to “track your progress” with a poem and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. The subjectiveness is what I love about poetry. For the other side of me who likes to see upward lines on graphs, blogging can pander to that need nicely.  

Variety

I think it’s important to focus your attention on multiple forms of writing and art. Last year I took a scriptwriting class just to try new things, I started writing the beginning chapters of a YA Novel just for fun and this year I’m focusing more on my blog. Telling myself that I am not just one kind of writer gives me permission to move outside the box, experiment and make mistakes. Things get stagnant if we keep them the same way for too long and it’s important to be able to shift and respond in accordance to your surroundings. I do not think it’s healthy for anyone’s creativity to be boxed into something. I think I will always see myself as a poet or an artist and I think my work will always be within the realms of helping others to access their creativity but I need to know that I am able to make necessary changes and adjustments in order to do whats best for me.

Sustainability

I have mentioned this word a couple of times lately. If you know me personally you will know that my main goal in life is to create a sustainable career out of creativity for myself. This has been my focus to the point that I am bordering on obsessed with it.

I don’t want to believe this all-too-common rhetoric that artists and writers should live on a diet of fresh air and budget whiskey. I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that you can’t be both a talented artist and business-savvy.

(I also don’t buy that you have to drink heavily to be a poet but I suppose that’s a whole other conversation entirely!) Having an online platform that can serve as a hub for a larger community strikes me as something I can really use as a foundation from which to build off. It’s sustainable from my point of view and also useful to the people reading! I want to build a life for myself, and I want a brand that is rooted in the authenticity of who I am. Blogging and sharing information via Salt Water Poetry feels like a good place to start for me.  Whatever form of writing you chose to focus on, I hope that it’s rooted in authenticity for you. I hope you find a way to be yourself and most of all I hope you massively enjoy what you do. I may flit backwards and forwards between writing and working styles, but I have to tell you that since I opened up the door of possibility on me being “more” than just a poet, I have never felt more free.

Why I Went Sober for a Year (and what I learned)

 

As a child I was brought up to see the adults in my family drinking responsibly. My parents would have a glass of wine with dinner, maybe a beer at the weekend, maybe something sparkling on new years eve. While no-one ever drank in excess, they never made me feel like alcohol was “off-limits”. I remember being allowed some wine with my meal from a relatively young age. I think in contrast to my friends whom alcohol was “banned” I didn’t go off the rails when I finally drank unsupervised. Not at first, at least. I always remember being fascinated with the heavier stuff. My parents had a bottle of Chintzano (something no-one even drinks and probably rightly so because it tasted vile) stashed away in their cupboard. I remember I would sneak swigs out of it (definitely was the sort of thing that needed to be mixed!) and tell my friends afterwards. I remember feeling giddy from the feeling of doing something wrong more so than feeling drunk! Then there were the days of alcopops; cute bottles filled with fruity, sugary, brightly coloured liquid that the companies swore were not aimed at teenagers. Hmmmm. WKD, Bacardi Breezers, Red Square, and many other titles that I would like to forget. I remember being drunk for the first time, wobbling around my friends house aged 13 after too many orange Bacardi Breezers on New Years Eve. Little did I know that would be minor in comparison to the alcohol I would consume and states I would get myself into later in life. In school, finding that one person with the “cool parents’ or older sister who could provide alcohol was like hitting gold.

I feel part of the reason why so many teens drink to the point of passing out is because to us, it feels like we’re in the middle of a draught. I wasn’t sure when I’d have another chance to get my hands on alcohol so I wanted to make sure I took advantage of the opportunity.

(The absence of hangovers also probably helped) I know for a fact that my experience with alcohol in school was incredibly tame in comparison to a lot of my friends. Hearing about someone getting their stomach pumped at the weekend or taken home by the police was pretty normal. Not to mention a whole heap of other things that I just don’t need to go into! From leaving school at 16 up until going to university at 20; alcohol played a huge role in mine and my friends social lives. I remember parties, pub visits and birthdays on the beach. Most of them were filled with home made cocktails, cheep bottles of wine and a large amount of peach shnaps and vodka. (Why was peach shnaps a thing? Was that just me and my friends?) Alcohol was ingrained into British youth culture at the time. With the rise of music festivals, 18-30 holidays and TV programs such as The Inbetweeners and Skins; alcohol (and other substances but thats a whole other kettle of fish) was everywhere. Social media was starting to take off and for the first time we had a real unfiltered look into the lives and weekend habits of others, this I’m presuming added to the obsession we had at the time with getting absolutely shitfaced. A lot of my friends went to university before me so I was around for many freshers weeks and student nights. And of course there were festivals coupled with the fact that most of us at this point were legal to drink. Somewhere in this haze of happy memories, I was starting to realise that alcohol wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. For a start, being 5ft and a size 6 means that I’m a huge lightweight! Also when going out, I was more pre-occupied with having a chat with someone over queuing at a bar and would go many nights on just one or two drinks. I’d had enough embarrassing moments by this point to know that alcohol just wasn’t worth it for me. I’d witnessed a few friends struggle with substance abuse and the feeling had started to creep in that we were just getting too old for this.

There comes a point that drinking like there’s no tomorrow stops being young and idealistic and starts heading towards a far darker place. 

My darkest moments took place at university. I was experiencing a lot of undiagnosed anxiety; being a highly sensitive, introverted person (but not yet having this vocabulary or knowledge at the time) around a tonne of extroverted acting students at a drama school was a complete recipe for disaster for me. I drank to fill the awkward silences. I drank because I didn’t know what else to do with my hands, I drank because that meant I wouldn’t have to talk as much, I drank because I felt I needed to be there, like I couldn’t just go home and call it a night, I drank because I didn’t feel like there was an alternative. I’m sure many of you don’t need me to tell you but drinking when you’re not happy on the inside doesn’t usually bring your best self forward. There were nights were I was mean, bitter, jealous, emotional and over-dramatic. I said things I wish I could take back and took low swipes at my friends sore spots. I was mean to another girl over a boy I liked and rude to strangers and people just trying to help. I didn’t like myself when I was drunk. I wasn’t able to just have a good time. I’d often end up saying something I regretted or crying. If I didn’t do something embarrassing, I would shut myself off in my room anytime I felt I was “too drunk” to sleep it off and end up missing the majority of the party anyway. Uni was were I started weening myself off alcohol. It helped that I attended a drama school, on a course with a high workload. We didn’t really have a freshers week, uni was a 30-50 hour week, and the lessons were demanding. It took us all one attempt at doing a Body Conditioning class hungover to realise that this was not going to be your typical university experience. I was glad; the intense nature of the course was part of the reason why I had chosen it but that’s not to say that alcohol didn’t find a way in. It just wasn’t something we could do in the week and our weekends were usually reserved for drama school parties. (my soul hurts as I’m writing that as my brain flashes back to watching a tonne of 1st year actors drunkenly belt out songs from beauty and the beast…. NOT MY SCENE!) (Nothing wrong with that if you like it, but for me; very overwhelming.) After graduating, I had one final embarrassing “I’m drinking to avoid my social awkwardness” encounter and realised that enough was enough. I’d tried to clean up my diet and lifestyle a lot in the years that passed after uni and I was slowly getting more used to the fact that I didn’t like alcohol anymore. When I moved back home I got a 9-5 working for a charity. The people I worked with were amazing but there was a huge pub culture present that I had to learn to navigate. This really put my new lifestyle to the test and was probably one of the most tempting/hardest situations so far! I was new, I wanted to spend time with my co-workers and plus they made it seem so fun! There was a lot of travelling involved and alcohol really helped to spice up the sometimes three-hour commute with your co-workers at the end of a long day.

After a while, I eventually managed to strike a balance between sticking to my gut and not sucking the life out of a party.

I had managed to be around drunk people sober, stay non-judgemental and most of all stay fun. The people around me at this point were not only accepting, they were incredibly supportive too. This is why last year on my birthday I finally decided to go a full year without touching a drop. I was drinking very little at this point but I still drank occasionally. I wanted to cut it out of my life completely as drinking even a tiny bit seemed to negatively affect my health pretty instantly and I was no longer enjoying even just having one drink. Through the hen parties, weddings and family meals I’m proud to say that I made it. Was it as easy as I thought? No, there were still moments I found difficult. Sitting at a table for my friends birthday that was heaving under the weight of more bottles of red wine than plates was hard. I love the taste! Getting through a hen night was surprisingly easy thanks to the company of my also-sober-pregnant friend. Was there a moment where I thought I was going to cave? Yes but ultimately I’m so glad that I didn’t. So: what did I learn? That’s what you wanted to know right? I would say that if you got this far and are eager to know then maybe try it yourself. Try and give up anything for a year and see how it changes you. All I can tell you is how it’s been for me, in no way am I suggesting that the conclusions I came to will be part of your experience. Here goes…. Abstaining from alcohol and “going-out culture” in general has really allowed me to step more into the role of the observer. I’ve been able to look at alcohol (and our social lives for that matter) for what it is and really challenge some of the pre-concieved notions I had around drinking. If I’m honest in my years of “low alcohol” I used to be very judgemental towards people who chose to drink. I couldn’t understand why people would subject their body and mental health to that much of a battering and would roll my eyes anytime I’d have to walk down a bar-lined street at night. Since then my perceptions have changed massively.

I don’t think I’m any better, I certainly don’t think I’m more highly evolved and I really do see and appreciate the place alcohol has in our society to an extent.

Sometimes I feel like there is an air of superiority within the spiritual community. The rhetoric being that people who drink are less spiritually-evolved or “awake”. I believe this steers us into a belief that our experience with one substance will really be the same for others, which isn’t exactly true. I know tonnes of people who can still get lit at the weekend and at meditation class. It’s called balance. It’s called the human experience. It’s called living in western society where alcohol culture is at an all-time high and maybe not knowing how to engage with that while keeping your friends and not living like a hermit. Ultimately I like to reserve judgement towards my friends lifestyle) choices. (Unless of course, someone is causing a direct risk to themselves or others. I don’t believe that we should continue our relationship to alcohol in the same way as it currently is. I don’t believe that drinking should be used as a vice and of course I know I’m not the only one to stare in open-mouthed disbelief at the alcohol fuelled violence that takes place on our streets, or at the way addiction can seep into our family homes, tearing our units apart at the seams. Of course I wish there were more health warnings and that young people with developing minds were made to be aware of the effect drinking can have on our mental health. I wish there were more alternative activities around on Friday nights too. Overall, however, I don’t condemn drinking. I say if you have a healthy relationship to something then go for it. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions which can actually enhance our social dynamics. For that reason I really do see it’s place. The late Psalm Isadora said (quoting from another great herself) 

“Anything in this world can be either medicine or poison”

– Psalm Isadora

I might decide to break my fast on my birthday by sipping a gin and elderflower or sparkly cocktail or two but I really don’t see myself ever incorporating alcohol back into my life in any serious way. I do believe that for the majority of us; we would be better off without it, our health would improve and our minds would probably remain a lot sharper. However I realise how difficult is it to navigate society and friendship groups should you distance yourself completely from drinking culture. For some people, this will work but others it may prove difficult. As well as my ups and downs, I have experienced so many funny memories and moments that served to bring my core group of friends closer together when we were younger. I miss that. One day as society evolves and we keep working on ourselves, I think we will be able to lose our inhibitions and deepen our friendships naturally, I think friends will be able to open up about the important stuff without the need for a glass of wine in hand and I think that 2008 holiday Lyndsay would have been able to kiss that boy first without the shot of tequila in her stomach but until then; I say drink if you want to but do it responsibly.

 

My Current Favourite Music to Write to

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Instagram: @saltwaterpoetry

Do you ever feel like you just need the right music to help you zone out and create? Well I’ve put together a few of my fail-safe playlists that have helped me over the years! (Side note: you don’t just have to use these to write to). One of my favourite things to do is to discover new music. (See my Top 5 Female Artists posts a while back if you haven’t already.) I’m always curious as to what music people listen to in their rooms when they’re trying to create an atmosphere. Expect; moody, ambient tracks with a few movie soundtracks thrown in too! Use them for writing, painting, making art, cooking, cleaning, long walks, or simply lounging outside in the sun all day.

Tycho: Epoch

My ultimate favourite artist of this nature. (See also albums: Drive, Awake and their live set at Burning Man (available on SoundCloud) Tycho casts the perfect balance, taking you on an almost meditative journey through clean, modern and minimal beats.

Kiasmos: (Self Titled Album)

Following on from the same feel as Tycho, Kiasmos is floaty and uplifting. This album gets a little heavier towards the end but if you’re already in a flow by then you might not even notice!

James Blake

A little moody and darker, this I would say is perfect rainy-day listening. Got an art project that needs your attention? Throw on some James Blake! No one album in particular, I would recommend you to get familiar with a few of his songs.

London Grammar: If You Wait

This might be more of a random add in because I don’t usually like to listen to songs with words when I’m writing but for some reason, the first song on this album especially helps to get me into a flow. Especially good for journaling or creating work thats more emotional. Plus it’s a UK band which I just love supporting. They also have a new album out but for me If You Wait will always have a place in my music library.

American Beauty Score

It originally won awards for it’s creation and I can’t help but find it beautiful to write to! Off-beat, uplifting and full of personality; I bring to you something that is both classic and dynamic. Composed by Thomas Newman.

Her Soundtrack

Following on from the theme of soundtracks, this one is a little bit more experimental. But when you’re in the mood for it, you’re in the mood for it, you get me? Composed by Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, this soundtrack is simply stunning. Within this playlist I have to say that I really like the first song Sleepwalker. Song On The Beach is beautiful too.

LowFi Hiphop Playlists

More so a genre than any set playlist or album. If you search for this on YouTube or SoundCloud, I guarentee you will find something that sits well with you. I would say these are my favourites right now.

I know that classical music or jazz can be a firm favourite with many people also. I could go on and on for movie soundtracks but I’ll save those for another day! I would also note that these albums are very different to the music I listen to when I’m just generally working. When I have a tonne of e-mails to bash out or I’m tinkering on the blog, I’m more likely to listen to something more upbeat (Cue many 90’s r’n’b playlist’s.) I like to have a variety of different styles available to me. What I want to listen to really depends on how I feel when I wake up in the morning but I love, love, love more than anything finding new, cool music to listen to! I feel like a good playlist just brightens up your life, so please if you have any songs that you just love listening to, I’d be happy to hear about them!

Creating For Its Own Sake

It’s no great secret that poets like having an audience. I remember once hearing at an open mic night that “poets live on alcohol and applause”. It’s a little flippant, but not entirely inaccurate. At least, it is for me. There’s a part of my soul that thrives on attention. It’s why I perform and, if I’m being brutally honest with myself, it’s not an insignificant part of why I write. I want an audience. I want people to look at my work and “Yes this is good art” or “This really speaks to me” or “Wow let’s give you lots of money to make more of this. Also a house. And a cat” (the latter hasn’t happened
yet, but I hold out hope).

I love the events I attend, I love my blog, I love my Twitter and my Facebook and my Patreon. Every time someone tells me they enjoyed my work, or clicks on a like button, when I get notified of a new patron, it’s a little magical. That these people, these real living people with lives and hobbies and limited time on earth want to spend some of that with my work seems almost too amazing to be true. But envy is a tricky thing. I envy the writers with thousands of Facebook followers, the ones giving guest lectures and appearing on TV. I see them and I want what they have. Measured against someone like Melissa Lozada-Oliva or Rudy Francisco or, of course, Rupi Kaur, I feel less like a small
fish in a big pond than an amoeba in an ocean. Compared to viral videos on Button Poetry and sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, the quiet constant support I get from loved ones, the slightly over-excited conversations in the back rooms of pubs, can often feel inadequate. It can feel exceedingly similar to being ignored. And that silence, when blog posts go unnoticed and YouTube videos unseen, is too often overwhelming. More than once I’ve had to actively stop myself from deleting my Twitter, Patreon, or poetry Dropbox because I’ve felt like I’m screaming into the void.

Perhaps one day I’ll have the kind of audience I want, the kind where total strangers message me to tell me how they found some kind of joy or solace in what I create, but I’m not there yet. I don’t have the time, energy or skills to build the kind of reach part of me craves. But what I do have is the knowledge that 8 year old Maz memorised poetry because it is beautiful, that 14 year old Maz made sense of her adolescence by scribbling in a notebook, that the first open mic 19 year old Maz attended felt like coming home. An audience is nice, but it isn’t why I started writing. I have words humming under my skin that are dying to get out. There are characters and places and stories I can only tell using almost excessive amounts of metaphor. There’s the way a new poem tastes when I can tell it is going to be beautiful. There’s the incredible high of committing something new to memory and having it bounce around my head for weeks.

In poetry I have found a diverse and welcoming community. I’ve been to nights that go from horror to anarchist manifesto, from confessional to fantasy epic. Within the wonderful creative spaces I am blessed enough to inhabit, I go beyond writing for my own ego or satisfaction; I add to a conversation. Every night I go to, every book I read, I am taught something new and it makes me a better poet. No, I don’t have adoring fans, but I have more peers, comrades and teachers than I thought possible. It is tempting to make all my poetry goals about reaching a bigger audience or getting a larger fee for performing. There’s nothing wrong with having those goals, but I’m learning to get better at centring my growth as a poet. Am I consistently trying new things? Am I stretching myself? Am I having fun? That is infinitely more important than how many strangers double tap on an Instagram post. I may never have a large audience. I may always be talking to a couple people on a tiny little blog in an obscure corner of the internet, or to a couple dozen people in the back room of a pub. I may never be entirely happy with that. But I am happy with creating, with learning and growing.

Poetry is my lifeblood. And that’s valuable for its own sake.

By Maz Hedgehog.

Connect with Maz further: PatreonBlogEtsyFacebook

 

My KonMari Journey

I have wanted to speak about this book for so long! You may have realised that if you read my January Favourites where this book gets it’s first mention! I’m not even sure if I will be able to cram in everything I have to say into one blog post. This process has been so deep for me, that I am making new observations each day even several months later. I knew I needed time to really digest the information and the process the book takes you through but I feel like now, right at we are entering spring cleaning season is probably the best time to share my experiences! As you may have guessed from today’s title, I am discussing The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. I had known about this book for quite some time yet it had never really caught my eye. I suppose I already thought of myself as a tidy person, I would routinely have clearcuts of my possessions and I liked to keep my room fairly minimal. (I’m an all-neutrals decor sort of person, and I don’t even like to hang things on the walls) I actually ended up reading The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck first, I think I had originally bought it to see me through a long train journey. I then became determined to get my hands on the original inspiration!

Breakdown

I won’t go too deep into the methods taught in this book or even the reasons why Marie so strongly believes that everyone should learn to tidy. I think if this is something that you’re interested in then it’s really worth reading the book and hearing her perspective for yourself. I will however give you a quick breakdown. For those of you who don’t know, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying is a book by Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo on her signature technique of tidying, the KonMari method. Yes you heard that right, this woman spends her days visiting her clients houses teaching them how to put their things in order, once and for all. Her two main focus’s on keeping the ultimate state of balance in the home? First discarding that which does not bring you joy and secondly; finding somewhere to keep each and every item in the house.

“This incredibly easy method will not just transform your space, it will change you too. You will feel more confident, become more successful and be motivated to create the life you want.”  

– Marie Kondo

I mean, who doesn’t want that? I’m aware that sounds like a pretty large claim for a book about tidying. Does it live up to its promise? I can’t speak on behalf of everyone who has ever read this but I can share how it has been for me!

The Process of Tidying

I read the book and was so full of excitement to get started. I prepared exactly how Marie said, I visualised how I wanted my room to look, I made lists of what to do first and how to do it, I cleared my schedule, I got the bin bags ready and I was filled with a strange rush of excitement. (I say strange because I don’t usually equate “tidying” to “exciting) Initial optimism aside, this process was not easy. At first I was getting through things pretty quickly and felt so satisfied anytime I tossed something on the “no” pile. That night I stared into my bare wardrobe and I had a panicked feeling of “oh dear god what have I done?” (similar to the mild type of horrified feeling you usually get when staring into the mirror after you’ve let a hairdresser talk you in chopping a huge chunk of your hair off) After that first night, things slowed down. As I moved onto the more sentimental categories it become more and more difficult to discard. I was taking longer to work through things and it seemed like the piles were growing as I was discovering more stuff of mine, tucked away in forgotten corners of the house. The finish line seemed to be fading away into the distance. It was taking weeks longer than I initially thought. Plus I was still having to live with the bags of discarded items. I had decided what I didn’t want but was yet to have a proper sort through them to decide what was going to friends, what was going to charity shops and what needed to be thrown away. Marie also says it’s best not to show your family the extent of what you’re parting with so I was sleeping with around 6 full bin bags of clothes stacked around my already small room which kind of sent me into a weird headspace. Probably because it reminded me of the Junk Lady scene in Labyrinth which has always freaked me out. (Inserted below, for your viewing pleasure.)

The End Result

“Your real life begins after putting your house in order”

– Marie Kondo

The feeling when this process was finished (I say “finished” loosely, as it is always a work in progress) was one that I will never forget. Like I said, it is still a process even now. As I rearrange my room, order new pieces of decor and get rid of the last few items (things like selling my old electronics) I look at my sentimental items and know that I could still stand to lose some more, I look at my shelves full of old journals and wonder if I should just burn them as opposed to using them as material for a strange yet hopefully endearing one-woman play on my childhood that my brain keeps enthusiastically insisting I’ll create. I dream up the ideal storage solutions every time I look at my makeshift ones but ultimately I am content with what I have right now. It may sound like a large claim but they way I live my life has shifted, improved and upgraded in ways that I cannot explain! My room now feels inspiring, I am surrounded with beautiful things. Clearing out my wardrobe has left me to be more free with how I dress. I can now roll out my yoga matt and actually practise in my bedroom and at night; I sit back in my white bedding, leaning back on the peach cushions I hadn’t taken out of their wrapping for a year, I look round my peaceful room as I write in my diary and I think to myself how beautiful this all is and how uplifted I feel.

The Effects Overall 

Getting into the habit of assessing what is no longer useful in your life helps you to make some very important personal decisions. I decided that a night that I loved running had to go, it was time. I said no to some great opportunities that weren’t going to pay me, I become more protective of my time and energy, I stopped trying to people please, I had enough time to actually get quiet and listen to my body to the point where I realised there was something up, prompting me to get a blood test and learn I had two different nutrient deficiencies. I focused on what was important and got greater clarity with my career. I was able to learn more and retain new pieces of information, after letting go of a heap of thoughts/worries that no longer needed my attention. How could clearing out your room possibly be so significant? There is really nothing I can say that would effectively explain it but for me, I can agree that this process has been indeed, life-changing.  At the start of the process I genuinely thought I didn’t need this as I am “always” tidying. But this is different. This is one thorough way of putting your things and your life in order, once and for all. If you are even remotely interested in this process and concept then I strongly recommend you buy this book.

“Although not large, the space I live in is graced with only the things that speak to my heart. My lifestyle brings me joy. Wouldn’t you like to live this way too?”

– Marie Kondo

I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on this book that has became a downright sensation! If you’ve read any other books on minimalism/decluttering I’d love to hear your suggestions! Next on the list is The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan. I’d also like to remind you that this blog is looking to feature a guest each month! Bear in mind that the aim of this platform is to celebrate creative living in all it’s many aspects, so if you’re an artist, a lifestyle enthusiast or you’re living somewhat outside of the box then I’d love to hear from you! For full details and to submit your pitch, please drop me a message via the form on the “contact” page. I’d like to turn this into a collaborative platform and involve more people from the communities that shape me. Here’s to an exciting few weeks!

Fake News – A Poem

Throwing it back this week to this poem I wrote for the SAN Conference on fake news!

lyndsay writes poems

IMG_1290 Photo by Sean Murray @vacantart

I hope you’ve had a great week! As a few of you may have noticed, I have spent the last few weeks/months giving a lot more attention to this blog and posting regular content. This week I thought it might be nice to throw it back to one of my earlier posts for the benefit of anyone new around here. I actually really enjoyed sharing my poetry in this way and am cooking up some ideas of how I can creatively share my work in the future! Hope you enjoy this throwback post. As always let me know what you think and share this post with your poetry-loving friends!

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I don’t often share my poetry on social media, especially not my longer pieces of spoken word. I know that there are a few video’s of me performing live out there in the ether and…

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My Rhymes & Records Goodbye Letter!

 

I felt it was only right to dedicate this weeks post to saying goodbye to my beloved spoken word night! I don’t think I will really be able to convert all I have to say into a blog post but I will try. I have ran Rhymes & Records; a monthly spoken word night for the last two years, and boy, what a journey it has been! The night’s intention was to feature some of the most exciting artists in the northwest with a balance between emerging and established artist. I wanted people in Liverpool to have access to some incredible artists from further afield while providing a platform and paid opportunities for local artists at the same time.

For those who don’t know, Rhymes & Records was held in The Jacaranda, an iconic music venue in Liverpool. The first place that The Beatles ever played to be exact! It’s one of those venue’s that just has an air of coolness to it, without being pretentious. Young or old, everyone seems to have memories of The Jac and with many bars and restaurants seeming to be in flux in this city, it’s great to have this old listed building still around; well used and well loved. When it first began I remember feeling so nervous. I was convinced that despite there being some interest on Facebook, no-one would show up. I wasn’t sure that I was doing anything different enough to warrant interest and there were already so many poetry nights happening in the city. I triple messaged friends, deterrmind to fill the room somehow, so what if my friends weren’t into poetry? I needed to make sure it wasn’t me alone in a room, with a mic for two hours. It turns out that I didn’t actually need to emotionally blackmail my friends and family into attending because our first ever night was sold out to the point that we had to start turning people away! A few months later me and the venue decided to move from the quirky second floor record store into their bigger space; the basement downstairs. For the next two years, the basement of The Jac was our poetry home!

I would say the night was most known for it’s sense of community. There were many valuable insights and stories shared in that room; things that were important for the speaker to say and things that were important for the audience to hear. I know that many people considered this a safe space where they could open up and for that I am very grateful. The support people showed one-another, especially new performers was really heartwarming. Throughout the months, I’ve seen people grow in confidence with their performance and body language. I’ve seen young people too shy to hold eye contact have a room erupt into laughter from their on-stage banter, I’ve seen people use their words to get to grips with all the happenings in their lives and make sense of the challenges they face. I’ve seen poetry become a form of solace for many people. Without going on a tangent I see all of this as absolute proof of the transformational power of the arts and the importance of it especially in this current climate.

I want to say thank you firstly to everyone who’s headlined: Bradley Thompson, Mark Mace Smith, Matty “Delboy” Delaney, Joy France, Steven Duncan,  Miko Berry, Adam Baird, Ged Thomson, Ann Briggs, Rose Condo, Genevieve L Walsh, Lisa Bower, Callan Waldron-Hall, Helen Tookey, Victoria Sanchez, Christina Thatcher, Ciaran Hodgers, Maz Hedgehog, Kieran King, Jake Wildhall and Tryone Lewis! A huge thank you to everyone who open mic-ed, to The Jacaranda for supporting us and everyone who came along just to watch. A big thank you goes out to anyone who’s helped me: take money on the door, came early to help set up, featured us in an article, filmed, took photographs, live tweeted, brought their friends, written something for the theme, bought an artists book, advertised on Facebook, written press releases or jumped in to lend a hand in any other way. I appreciated and took note of everything you’ve all done. A big thank you to FACT Liverpool for the collaboration on the Unfold exhibition, to Liverpool Pride for letting us host an LGBTQ+ themed night and to Writing on The Wall for introducing some immensely talented young people to the night and for choosing us to host their book launch. Lastly, to the people who patiently listened to all my plans and helped me over the hurdles, thank you.

Not everyone knows this, but I never intended to set up a poetry night. I was originally online looking for a venue to hold a workshop in. I had a manager show some interest and during the phone call, I realised that there had been a miscommunication. I had wanted a room to host a one-off workshop, they wanted someone to host a monthly poetry night. In that moment I realised I had a choice. It would have been so easy to explain that we must have got our wires crossed, but something in me decided to grab the opportunity. I came off the phone a little shocked at myself to say the least “so I guess I run a poetry night now” – I remember thinking. I think I may have burst out laughing at that point. Sometimes the best opportunities come out of sheer fluke, or comprise of things you never even knew you wanted to do.

I have really enjoyed working on this night and I can honestly say it’s something I’m very proud of. Rhymes & Records helped me grow as a person and an artist. I have so many ideas for exciting events I want to create next and I know that the ethos and spirit of Rhymes & Records will be infused into all of them in some way! Here’s to celebrating a fantastic two years, and to all the new experiences that are just around the corner for all of us.

Lyndsay

On Name-Changes and Branding

 

I’ve previously been told that I’m very good at naming things; books, blog-posts, projects and hopefully this will be no exception.

Salt Water Poetry was the name I wrote under for a while when I first got into sharing my poetry online. I picked this name for a few reasons; one being that I was nervous about sharing my poetry with the world so I felt a name would be easier to hide behind and another reason being that I just really liked the sound of it! Salt Water Poetry just sounded like a thing and I was even getting requests from people if they could work for my “company” (I wasn’t even working for my “company” at this point. In reality all SWP consisted of then was a handle on Instagram.) After my spoken word started getting more popular within Liverpool’s poetry scene and I started getting booked for live events and running nights etc. I decided to drop the name and just work under my own. The logic behind this decision being that I didn’t want to form a company and hire people etc. I felt like surely if I was working as a singular person then I wouldn’t need any sort of name or branding? I now realise that that wasn’t technically correct. As far as personal branding is concerned there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Salt Water Poetry feels and has always felt like my brand. I now feel comfortable using this title now that I’m further on with this journey and a little clearer on how I want to show up in the world.

Aside from just liking the title there were a few other reasons why I had decided to use that name. I first started writing to get over heartbreak. At the time, I noticed that water seemed to be a recurring theme within my work. Aside from writing, I had just begun to notice how vital water water for healing; tears, sweat, baths, they all helped. I know a poet writing about water isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff but there was something in the correlation water had to healing that had caught my interest. Whenever I explain to people the reasons behind my choice of title, I feel a rush of excitement. Salt Water Poetry brings me back to the days where I was first discovering myself artistically, it reminds me of having to summon the bravery to quit my job and move cities in order to peruse poetry more seriously. The name reminds me of the way your voice shakes when you speak the truth and takes me back to a time when I first learned that words could be powerful.

Here’s to creating more power, more authenticity and more bravery this year.

What’s your take on individual branding? How do you market yourself as a singular person and how do you find the balance between showing yourself vs showing the product/service you offer? I find this topic really interesting and will most likely be writing more on the subject this year!

My Top 5 Female Artists

 

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the singer/songwriter Jain (more on her in a minute) after taking a guess that her music would be right up my street. He was right! I was surprised by just how much her work complimented the rest of the music on my playlists. I love nothing more than discovering new music online, so I thought why not share the wealth and introduce people to some of my favourite female artists! For me, a song or artist always has more value attached if it has been recommended by a friend. With International Women’s Day being but a few days away, this post seemed very fitting! Each woman featured here not only produces great music but also ooze’s girl-power vibes. In order to find out more about these artists, I did a little research online. Interestingly, I noticed that for the majority their work seems to be described as a hybrid of several genres, with some artists (e.g Nao who we’ll get onto in a minute) even arguably creating their own genre all together! I do not think this is a coincidence. In fact I think part of the reason why I find these songs so dynamic lies in the fact that the artists seem to be creating new rules for themselves!

1. Jain

A French singer-songwriter who spent various years of her life living in Dubai, Congo-Brazzaville, Abu Dhabi and Paris; her exposure to multiple cultures clearly evident in her music which makes for a truly vibrant, individual and eclectic sound. Her music is fun and fresh.

Favourites: Lil Mama, Makeba, Come and Heads Up

2. Raye

A singer/songwriter from London with Charli XCX and Stormzy being just two of the artists she’s previously worked with. Her music is the kind I would listen to over chilled drinks with friends (if yano, I actually drank alcohol) with a real knowledge of the music industry and many different influences apparent in her work, Raye is predicted to go far! It’s hard to believe that she is just 20.

Favourites: Decline, Flowers, Bet U Wish, I, U, Us

3. Kiiara

An American singer-songwriter from Illinois and one of my favourites of the list! I came across Kiiara one day, on SoundCloud  a few years ago and haven’t looked back! Likened to Lorde, she’s another one who has been hailed for her own take on pop/rnb. I would say Kiiara’s music provides the ultimate getting-ready-to-go-out vibes.

Favourites: Feels, Whippin, Gold, Tennessee, Hang Up The Phone,

4. NAO

A british artist from Nottingham, Nao has rather famously created her own genre for herself, marked as “wonky funk” (something I’m really glad about because I don’t think I would have the words to describe her kind of sound. It’s truly unique.) Nao has a super etheric voice and her music creates an ambient atmosphere.

Favourites: Bad Blood, Girlfriend, In The Morning, she also featured on Firefly by Mura Masa

5. Ibeyi

After first hearing their song River during a D.J set in Bali; I had to make a run for my phone to jot down the lyrics, because I knew this was a song I wanted to hear again! Comprised of two French sisters, their music consists of hauntingly beautiful harmonies and colourful beats. Ibeyi’s music is soup for the soul.

Favourites: River, Mama Says, Away Away

Of course choosing only 5 here was incredibly difficult. To quickly fire off a few more names I would say; Princess Nokia, Daughter and Alessia Cara are all worth checking out, as well as London Grammar and The Internet – two bands featuring a female lead and Oh Wonder which is a male/female duo. I’d love to know who you enjoyed listening to and if you have any plans to celebrate Int. Women’s Day! As quoted by their website: “International Women’s Day is powered by the collective efforts of all”. However you chose to celebrate the female-identifying people in your life, know that every small act adds up!

See you next week where I will be talking you through my recent re-brand! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out my social media (all links on the right hand side) for more behind-the-scenes!

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